THE Reading FC squad looks set for a major January overhaul in a bid to avoid the drop.

New boss Jose Gomes confirmed wholesale changes are required in the wake of the 4-1 thumping by Swansea City on New Year’s Day that left Royals one place off the bottom of the Championship and five points from safety.

The 48-year-old Portuguese wants to cut the size of Reading’s squad in order to bring in reinforcements for the relegation battle ahead.

He is due to speak to his players at Hogwood Park training ground again today (Thursday) when some will be told they no longer have a future at the club.

The Reading Chronicle understands midfielder Dave Edwards looks set to join Shrewsbury Town, with several more players set to follow him through the Madejski Stadium exit door.

The likes of Pelle Clement, David Meyler and Marc McNulty could be loaned out in order to free up wages.

McNulty has scored once in 13 games for Royals after joining from Coventry City for £1m in the summer, with reports suggesting a loan move back to Sky Blues could be on the cards.

It is believed Vito Mannone could also be on the move – possibly back to his Italian homeland – after Gomes was this week linked with Manchester United’s third-choice keeper, Joel Pereira.

The 22-year-old had been loaned to Portuguese side Vitoria de Setubal for the season, but was recalled when Jose Mourinho was sacked mid-December.

Royals defender Tyler Blackett is also thought to be a target for Championship rivals Wigan amid unconfirmed rumours of a £400,000 bid.

Gomes, who replaced Paul Clement just before Christmas, revealed: “We are working on it with the board of directors. It’s normal for a club in our position to try and improve the squad now.

“The number of players in our squad is definitely very high so we need to reduce the number then afterwards try and bring in players who can make us stronger.”

However, Gomes refused to discuss individual players until he has spoken to them face-to-face.

“In the right moment, the club will tell you,” he added. “We didn’t talk with the players yet, so it is not fair on the players to talk about them.”

Gomes suggested his players looked ‘scared’ against Swansea City on Tuesday after going 3-0 down in the first half.

And the former Rio Ave boss believes Royals may have reached their nadir following the shambolic defeat.

“I’m here to help the players be stronger,” he stressed. “Now they have shown me all their faces they cannot hide anything more from me. We have to achieve the targets that we need.”

Reading FC travel to Manchester United this Saturday in the Emirates FA Cup third round (12.30pm, live BT Sport).

United clinched a fourth successive win under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last night after beating Newcastle United 2-0 at St James' Park.